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3rd District hopeful discusses issues with Sun Advocate


Ben Frank

By Rick Sherman
Sun Advocate Reporter

Editor’s Note: This is the first of what we hope will be more interviews on the race for the Utah’s 3rd Congressional District seat. Any duly registered candidate is welcome to visit with voters in Carbon County and drop by the Sun Advocate office.
The list of candidates seeking the soon-to-be vacant seat in Utah’s Third Congressional District keeps growing. Representative Jason Chaffetz has announced he will not seek reelection in 2018 and will in fact, leave office before his current term expires. Chaffetz said he wants to spend more time with his family, and will step down June 30.
Governor Gary Herbert announced he will call a special election to fill the position for the remainder of Chaffetz’s term. The seat may be vacant for up to four months. At last count, 22 candidates have officially entered the race.
One of the candidates for the seat in Congress is Democrat Ben Frank, a Salt Lake City native and progressive political activist. According to the ben4congress.org website, Frank has dedicated his life to serving people with mental health needs and disabilities. He has managed group homes and served as a psych tech at the University Neuropsychiatric Institute. He decided to run because he believes that congress needs to truly represent working people, the disabled, veterans, farmers and consumers.
During a campaign swing through Price Friday, Frank visited with party delegates, and stopped by the Sun Advocate office to discuss his position on a number of issues, ranging from campaign finance reform and health care, to veterans affairs and energy. He also speculated on the reason Chaffetz is leaving office early. “He knows that the Trump legacy, the Trump era is going to be a sinking ship and it would destroy his reputation if he’s tied in with it,” Frank opined.
In light of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision of 2010, the first-time candidate said he believes campaign finance reform is the number one issue, “because everything else is impossible to get done, and so I advocate a 28th amendment that would clearly state that corporations are not people and cannot participate in financing campaigns.”
On health care, Frank says what absolutely needs to happen is a single-payer system. “The Affordable Care Act did some great things but by still operating within the private insurance system, it was going to come up short. It was going to be a band aid from the get go. I think if we were to add the public option, that would be very important,” he mused.
Mental health care is lacking, according to Frank, especially for veterans. He said the current VA system is not very trauma-focused and doesn’t take PTSD very seriously even though it is such a serious issue with veterans. “I think that mental health needs need to be very much expanded.
“The biggest thing that I would like to see, said Frank, “is a 21st Century G.I. Bill that would provide education, low interest rate loans, health care. I think that housing programs, especially prioritizing veterans is important.”
Frank expressed what is sure to be an unpopular opinion locally on energy. “I believe that we can invest in clean energy and move some of the subsidies from coal and oil to wind and solar,” he stated.
Frank bemoans the current extremism in party loyalty, both Democrat and Republican. He said, “There’s a cultish fervor about the parties. It makes people intellectually lazy and makes it so that you don’t have to take a stand on issues.”
He said the Democrats have a history of representing the working class, but recently there has been a trend of the party turning into more of a party for the professional class. And he said, “I think that the working class message is, the economic populism is still a winning message, it’s just that there’s not people willing to take that stance.”
So what would it take for a Democrat to win in the Republican-dominated 3rd Congressional District? “It just takes stubborn people like me being willing to take risks and run and put themselves out there,” Frank concluded.

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